16. Chuck Todd
NBC’s Meet the Press is not only the longest running show on television, it’s also still the top rated Sunday news show. Its host, Chuck Todd, is also one of the most-informed news anchors, and his political forecasts carry weight. Whether Todd’s covering breaking news, dissecting the top headlines, hosting a panel or conducting a tough interview with the biggest names in politics, viewers can always expect studied analysis that will drive the political conversation. With a daily show on MSNBC at 5 p.m. and the Sunday morning show on NBC, there are few who have his airtime or gravitas.
15. Tucker Carlson
Tucker Carlson has gone from being the host who successfully filled Bill O’Reilly’s old slot, to becoming a major political force of his own. Mostly referred to as Tucker by his fans and among Trump’s MAGA base, he’s an absolute phenomenon. His aggressive interviews and trademark resting-perplexed-face make him a must-watch each evening particularly for those on the right. With the dominant ratings of Tucker Carlson Tonight and a president who has essentially crafted policy around stories he’s caught on the show, Tucker is now one-name famous. And what makes him so dangerous to those liberal guests who hope to take him to task, is that he is wicked smart and understands how to host an opinion talk show, on his terms.
14. Shepard Smith
In an era when the much of Fox News often feels aligned with Trump, Shepard Smith’s consistent dedication to delivering unvarnished news (and clarifying misinformation and half-truths) earns him high placement in our list of most influential. Broadcasting from an impressive new studio, Shep has become the Fox News iconoclast, aiming to provide fact-based coverage to counterbalance some in conservative media who are cozier with the president. In fact, for some Fox viewers, Shep may be the only information they see or hear that aggressively questions the administration. Recent examples of his “keeping it real” include his fact-checking Trump’s caravan brouhaha and his doubling down on “accepted science” over climate change. Shep is a gifted anchor, an entertaining broadcaster, and is as well-respected as anyone in the cable news business.
13. Rachel Maddow
What Sean Hannity is to pro-Trump conservatives in America, Rachel Maddow is to the #Resistance. Maddow just might be the leading voice of liberal dissent in America, and her MSNBC show serves as a refuge for those terrified of the current era. Her program is also unlike any other on cable news: it features extraordinarily long but gripping opening monologues, deep-dive reporting into topics often overlooked by the rest of the media, presented in an almost edutainment style. Maddow’s show isn’t flashy, but it’s incredibly well-researched and compelling. It also has a massive audience: she boasted some of her best ratings ever this year, often beating time slot rival Hannity. Maddow is a storyteller — one of cable’s best. Expect liberals to continue to see her as a guiding light as 2020 gets underway.
12. Ronan Farrow & Jane Mayer
This year, the New Yorker‘s Ronan Farrow and Jane Mayer had a slew of major bombshell stories, establishing them as the pair those in positions of power least want to hear from. After breaking open the Harvey Weinstein scandal last fall in his first story for the New Yorker — which won a Pulitzer Prize this year — Farrow continued his crusade against alleged abusers in positions of power with a report on ex-CBS CEO Les Moonves, who stepped down over the allegations. Farrow and Mayer teamed up for another stunning bombshell on ex-New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who resigned in disgrace, and another report on an accuser of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. Mayer continued her coverage of the fringe right-wing in America as well, breaking news on TPUSA, the Koch brothers, and the Mercers in the past year. They are the journalists fellow journalists aspire to be.
11. Chris Wallace
Fox News Sunday‘s longtime frontman had a banner year in 2018. The highlight, undoubtedly, was a piercing one-on-one with Russian president Vladimir Putin following the summit in Helsinki with President Donald Trump. But that was far from the only interview with a major figure which made Wallace the envy of journalists everywhere: his first sit-down with President Trump last month proved why he’s one of the best interrogators in the game, feared by those in power on both sides of the aisle. In addition, Wallace’s regular Friday afternoon appearances with Shepard Smith have frequently served as the definitive word on the week that was in Washington. When Chris Wallace speaks, America listens.
10. Don Lemon
Few segments in all of cable news move the needle as much as the CNN Tonight host’s show openers. And in 2018, Don Lemon‘s fiery monologues have driven the conversation as much as ever. He also showed off his clout — and range — this year by landing a unique, fascinating interview with NBA megastar LeBron James. And, as ever, Lemon’s panel debates are among the most explosive on television — making his the most likely cable news show to be discussed at the water cooler each morning. There’s a reason even President Donald Trump is rumored to watch Lemon’s show frequently: agree with his beliefs or hate them, it’s just hard not to.
9. Suzanne Scott & Jay Wallace
In May, several years after Fox News was left rudderless with the ouster of its longtime chief Roger Ailes, the network rolled out its new executive leadership: Suzanne Scott was named its first female CEO, and Jay Wallace was named president. The two are veterans of Fox News – they’ve both been there since its inception – and last year played a decisive role in leading the network out of the wilderness. The naysayers claimed they couldn’t do it, but ratings have peaked in the Trump era, and the network’s execs have deftly weathered a series of controversies to vault Fox News to the top of the cable news heap. The pair have survived the toughest of times and now have their hands on the reins of cable’s undisputed top property.
8. George Stephanopoulos
In July, the co-anchor of GMA and host of ABC’s Sunday show This Week managed something few outside the Fox orbit have done. George Stephanopoulos scored an exclusive one-on-one interview with President Donald Trump. It was just one of the buzzworthy highlights during a packed year for ABC News’ chief anchor. In April, Stephanopoulos interviewed former FBI Director James Comey in a much talked about sit down. Stephanopoulos is also one of the few news anchors to boast major scoops. Just last month, the ABC News veteran was the first to report that Michael Cohen would plead guilty and cooperate with Mueller’s probe. On the front lines of ABC News’ breaking news and live event coverage, in 2018 when news hit, if Stephanopoulos wasn’t breaking it, he was there to cover as the face of ABC News.
7. Jim Acosta
Jim Acosta can’t thank President Donald Trump for much — but he can thank him for bolstering his status as the most famous member of the White House press corps. Thanks to his confident but acerbic style, Acosta has earned himself supporters and critics in equal quantity. Those looking for a press corps that aggressively confronts the current administration have found a hero in Acosta. The White House and its supporters think otherwise, but their efforts to legally stymie the relentless reporter have only bolstered his visibility. Either way, if a presidential administration is waging a highly publicized legal battle against you for asking tough questions, your influence speaks for itself.
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